Coming off two consecutive wins of 20 points or more, the Lady Lions have been flexing their muscles lately.
Thursday night, it was Wisconsin’s turn to face the powerhouse of the Lions. The Badgers (8-10, 0-5) lost 84-40, and Wisconsin never stood a chance.
The No. 8 Lions opened with an 11-0 run in the first five and a half minutes, which consisted of four steals by Penn State, and four points off those turnovers.
Wisconsin never saw a lead, a tie or a deficit margin smaller than 11 after the 15-minute mark in the first half.
Head coach Coquese Washington made sure that happened, as she did not want her team to relinquish its pressure.
Early in the game, Washington could be heard yelling, “Get on the ball!” in the team’s huddle during a timeout. They did.
Penn State collected 17 steals, as Alex Bentley led the way with six. That complements the senior’s 14 points and five assists.
While the Wade Trophy Watch List guard came away with the most steals, Washington credited junior redshirt Dara Taylor to many of the opponents’ turnovers.
“She doesn’t always get the steal, but her pressure, a lot of times, leads to turnovers,” Washington said.
The Maryland transfer had eight points, six assists, and four steals in 22 minutes.
Yet, Bentley and Taylor did not solely carry the team’s play on the defensive side. Everyone was chipping in.
Six out of the nine Lions that entered the game recorded at least one steal.
“Bentley and Taylor do a nice job of pressuring along with Maggie on the wing, kind of making you do something that you don’t want to do,” Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey said after the game.
She added that the pressure rattled her young, experience guards.
In what the Badgers could not do offensively, Penn State did and more.
Four players had ten or more points, including senior center Nikki Greene, who tallied a season-high 23 points. That added to a total of 52 points in the paint for the Lions.
The win improves the team’s record to (14-2, 4-0 Big Ten) and gives the Lions three consecutive Big Ten wins of 20 or more points for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
The 44-point win also is the first time the Lady Lions have beaten a Big Ten opponent by 40 or more points since January 22, 2006 when they beat Northwestern, 91-48.
“When you can string some wins together: three, four, five wins in a row, together,” Washington said. “You certainly start to develop a bit of confidence. So I do think our confidence is pretty high."
However, Washington was quick to state areas of improvements that the Lions still need to work, such as converting in transition and free throw shooting.
“If we continue to [improve] and continue to grow, I’ll be really happy,” Washington said.